Week One Mental Mismatches
After another hugely successful season in 2020, the Mental Mismatches are back and ready to rake in some more profits. Of course, Week One poses a bit of a challenge, as the Intelligence Index is often seen as a predictor of coaching, and many coaches will be taking the field for the first time (and many of last year’s worst coaches have been cleared out.) That said, we still have some bottom feeders to pick on as we wait for new data to roll in, so let’s dive into the matchups.
Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders (+4.5)
The Ravens topped the index last year behind a strong ground game and excellent red-zone defense. John Harbaugh should have his team ready to go again. The Raiders have plenty of offensive talent, but the defense should be atrocious again. Expect Baltimore touchdowns and Vegas field goals en route to a Ravens win.
The Pick: Ravens -200
Denver Broncos at New York Giants (+2.5)
The Giants enter this one as home underdogs despite placing eight spots ahead of Denver on last year’s index. The team certainly has questions, first among them being Daniel Jones, but with Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney in the fold as well as Saquon Barkley returning to the backfield, he will be given his best chance yet to succeed.
On the other side, Teddy Bridgewater and Vic Fangio form one of the league’s blander quarterback/head coach pairings. It is likely that they will waste a talented skill corps led by Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton.
The Pick: Giants +140
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)
The Browns have become a hype machine entering 2021, and in some ways, it may be earned. Their offensive line is amongst the league’s best, and their defense has enough talent to make a serious leap.
However, they still lagged eight spots behind the two-time reigning AFC champions on the index last season. Andy Reid will have his bag of tricks fully stocked for this one, and Patrick Mahomes is simply more capable than Baker Mayfield, giving Reid more game-planning options than his counterpart, Kevin Stefanski. The Browns may be close, but their rise to the top of the AFC will not begin this Sunday.